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Decision No. 17,728

Appeal of D.V. from action of the Board of Education of the Phoenix Central School District regarding residency and transportation.

Decision No. 17,728

(August 14, 2019)

Costello, Cooney & Fearon, PLLC, attorneys for respondent, Christopher M. Militello, Esq., of counsel

ELIA., Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals the determination of the Board of Education of the Phoenix Central School District (“respondent”) that she is not entitled to attend the schools of the district tuition-free or receive transportation pursuant to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 USC §11431 et seq., “McKinney-Vento”).  The appeal must be dismissed.

The record indicates that, in or around January 2019, petitioner, who is eighteen years old, left her parent’s residence after a dispute with her stepfather.  Petitioner’s parents’ residence is located within the geographical boundaries of respondent’s district.

Following the alleged dispute, petitioner temporarily went to her grandmother’s home, which is located within respondent’s district, and subsequently moved in with a friend whose residence is located outside respondent’s district (“the out-of-district residence”).

On January 14, 2019, petitioner and her friend approached respondent’s homeless liaison (“liaison”) to inquire if respondent would transport petitioner from the out-of-district residence to school within respondent’s district.  The liaison informed petitioner that she would investigate further to determine whether petitioner was homeless pursuant to McKinney-Vento.  As part of her investigation, the liaison spoke to petitioner’s parents and grandmother, who stated that petitioner was welcome to return to either of their homes.  The liaison also found no evidence to indicate that petitioner would not be safe if she returned to her parents’ residence, or if she stayed with her grandparents.  The liaison determined that petitioner was not homeless since she was not sharing the housing of another person due to a loss of housing, economic hardship or similar reason.

By letter dated January 15, 2018, the liaison informed petitioner of her determination that she was not homeless pursuant to McKinney-Vento.[1]  This appeal ensued.

Petitioner asserts that she is homeless because she is sharing the housing or others due to the loss of housing, economic hardship or similar reason.  Petitioner states that she is residing with her friend because she had a dispute with her stepfather.  Petitioner seeks a determination that she is a homeless unaccompanied youth entitled to attend respondent’s schools tuition-free and to receive transportation.

Respondent maintains that petitioner has failed to meet her burden to demonstrate a clear legal right to the relief requested.  Respondent contends that petitioner is not homeless under applicable law.

The appeal must be dismissed as moot.  The Commissioner will only decide matters in actual controversy and will not render a decision on a state of facts which no longer exist or which subsequent events have laid to rest (Appeal of Sutton, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,331; Appeal of a Student with a Disability, 48 id. 532, Decision No. 15,940; Appeal of M.M., 48 id. 527, Decision No. 15,937).

In response to a request by my Office of Counsel, respondent submitted an affidavit from respondent’s director of pupil personnel and special education in which she avers that petitioner completed all requirements for graduation and graduated from respondent’s district on June 29, 2019.  Therefore, any determination in this matter would be academic, and the appeal must be dismissed as moot.




[1] The liaison’s January 15, 2015 exclusion determination states that petitioner is not entitled to transportation to respondent’s schools, but does not address whether respondent is excluding petitioner from its schools.  However, in her petition, petitioner requests a determination that she is homeless and entitled to attend respondent’s schools.